[전주대 신문 제895호 14면, 발행일 : 2019년 11월 20일(수)]
by Prof. Leon Rose
Being a foreign professor at Jeonju University is like wearing a set of golden handcuffs. This is an accurate description of what it is like to work in a Korean university. Anything made of gold is valuable and is to be desired. But handcuffs are restrictive and make escape hard. Being a university professor in Korea is a good job. There is a shortage of university jobs for foreigners especially in more rural areas like Jeonju and in comparison to other ESL jobs in Jeonju, university jobs are held in high regard. The job is too good to let go, but over a number of years in the position the reality becomes that you are actually a prisoner.
Part of the feeling towards being trapped is because there is zero room for promotion or improvement. You do not get rewarded with the perks afforded to Korean professors and should feel happy to have a job at all. The English department is constantly changing under each and every new Dean that comes along, and little or no insight is wanted from the foreign professors who actually do the teaching in the department. People who do not teach English as a second language make decisions and the foreign teaching staff are forced to make it work so some higher up can feel important regardless of the problems that surface out of the decisions they made.
There is a famous American movie called Groundhog’s Day . In this movie, each day is exactly the same, and, when the main character goes to bed each night, he awakes to see the date hasn’t changed and this day is exactly the same as yesterday. Problems with properly leveling the students, it will be exactly the same year after year. Unrealistic goals of raising student’s TOEIC scores to above 700, it will be exactly the same year after year.
Now there remain questions: Can you live a life out under these conditions? Can you want what is best for your students and your department, but go through years of no improvement at best while management working against your being able to do your job properly? Are the benefits of having a coveted job worth the feelings of knowing you will not be able to do the job properly? Can you take off a pair of golden handcuffs?
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